Warns of retaliatory action
Islamabad, Feb 19: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday assured India of action if New Delhi shared actionable evidence of involvement of his country in last week’s Pulwama attack, but warned against any “revenge” retaliatory action.
In a video message to the nation, Khan responded to the Indian allegations on Pakistan’s involvement in the attack in Kashmir last Thursday.
The suicide attack had left 49 CRPF personnel dead.
Pakistan wants “stability in the region”, Khan said.
Khan said that he understood it was India’s election year and the narrative of blaming Pakistan would make it easier to get votes from the masses but he hoped that better sense will prevail and that India would be open to dialogue.
He said that Delhi holds Pakistan responsible each time an incident happens in Kashmir and makes Pakistan its “whipping boy” again and again.
“The Kashmir issue like the Afghan issue will be resolved through talks,” he said.
“If you have any actionable intelligence that a Pakistani is involved. Give it to us. I guarantee you we will take action – not because we are under pressure, but because they are acting as enemies of Pakistan,” he said.
“I have been hearing and seeing on the Indian media that politicians there are calling for revenge from Pakistan. If India thinks it will attack Pakistan, then we will not just think but retaliate.”
“Starting a war is in our hands, it is easy. But ending a war, that is not in our hands and no one knows what will happen.” Khan said.
“It’s not in our interests that somebody from here goes out to do terrorism, nor that somebody comes here and does terrorism,” he added.
Khan said Pakistan was ready for talks with India on terrorism.
“I say it clearly this is a Naya (new) Pakistan and a new mindset,” he said.
“India talks about including terrorism in dialogue with Pakistan. Terrorism is a big issue facing this region and we want to eliminate it,” Khan said.
“If someone is using Pakistan’s soil [to carry out terror attacks elsewhere], it is enmity with us. It is against our interests.”
He said he did not respond to India’s allegations as he was busy with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the country.
“India accused Pakistan without any evidence and without thinking how this [attack] would benefit us,” he added. “Would even a fool try to sabotage such an important visit as that of the Saudi crown prince?” the prime minister asked.
“We have been fighting against terrorism for the past 15 years. How will Pakistan benefit from such incidents?”
On the Kashmir issue, Khan said “Kashmiris are not afraid of death anymore. There must be a reason for that. Should there not be a discussion in India on this?” he asked. “Which law in the world allows everyone to become a judge and jury?”
Questioning whether India “wants to resolve the issue through military”, Khan said, “This has never been a successful measure.”
The already sour relations between India and Pakistan have worsened over the past week as New Delhi blamed Islamabad for the Pulwama attack. The Pakistani leadership has strongly refuted the allegations.